Labels matter. So do definitions. Evangelicals are best defined by their beliefs.
Having worked in church and culture research for over a decade, I can tell you that one of the most-asked questions is about the category of Evangelicals.
It has been this way for a long time, but this election has brought it to the top of everyone’s list.
With 4 of 5 White Evangelicals voting for Donald Trump, everyone on both inside and outside of Christianity is trying to understand just who this group is. And among self-identifying Evangelicals who did not support Donald Trump, many are wondering how they can share the same label. This is the moment when more people than ever are asking: What exactly is an “Evangelical” Christian?
And, Evangelical does not mean “White Republican Who Supports Trump.”
Some have said they don’t want to use the label anymore, embarrassed because of its identification with Donald Trump. But that’s backwards. It’s not the label that supported Trump, it’s people—White Evangelicals, primarily.
But it’s not politics that unite all Evangelicals; it’s the gospel.
You see, most Evangelicals did not support Donald Trump; it was White Evangelicals who did.
Yes, researchers say “Evangelical,” and that’s a demographic category, but usually they mean “White Evangelicals.” But Evangelicals did differ, precisely around racial and ethnic categories, during this election.
I’m not embarrassed by fellow Evangelicals who’ve voted for or against Donald Trump. And you can stop using the term, but you still have the same people, just called something else, in your Evangelical church. However, I do wish the categories were more clear.
Disagreeing on Politics While Agreeing on the Gospel
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